San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Monday that she would not march in the city's annual Pride parade in June unless its organizers reverse a ban on uniformed police officers from marching.
The group that hosts the city's march, San Francisco Pride, initially enacted restrictions on uniformed police officers in 2020, following the nationwide protests for racial justice sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Last year's parade was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For this year's event, Pride organizers reinstated the uniform ban citing safety concerns for marginalized groups within the LGBTQ community. Officers are encouraged to participate, but wearing department T-shirts instead of uniforms.
Breed, a Democrat, condemned the move.
“One of the central planks of the movement for better policing is a demand that the people who serve in uniform better represent the communities they are policing,” Breed said. “We can’t say, ‘We want more Black officers,’ or ‘We want more LGBTQ officers,’ and then treat those officers with disrespect when they actually step up and serve.”
Conflicts between U.S. law enforcement and the LGBTQ community are nothing new. In fact, the country's first LGBTQ Pride marches — held in June 1970 — were organized to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a police raid at New York City gay bar Stonewall Inn, or what became known as the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.
But in recent years, tensions between police and the queer community have grown in the wake of a global racial reckoning.
In 2017, Toronto Pride banned uniformed officers from participating in its annual march due to concerns of racial injustice raised by the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter. Vancouver's Pride parade followed suit in 2020.
And in addition to San Francisco Pride, organizers of Pride events in New York City and Denver also recently banned uniformed police officers from marching in their parades, citing concerns over racial injustice. New York City's ban extends until at least 2025. Organizers in Denver have decided to invite individual LGBTQ officers to this year's parade, but not the city's entire department.
On Monday, the San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance also denounced San Francisco Pride's uniform ban, pleading with the group's board of advisers to reverse its decision.
"The board decided to punish LGBTQ+ peace officers for the failings of others," the group said in a statement. "This is its own form of prejudice and further erodes the tenuous relationship between peace officers and the communities we keep safe."
"For LGBTQ+ officers, this brings us back to a time when we had to hide at work that we were LGBTQ+," the group added. "Now they ask us to hide the fact of where we work."
San Francisco Pride's interim president, Suzanne Ford, and its board of directors said in a statement on Monday that while they have been working with the city's law enforcement to come to an agreement on uniforms at the parade, they have "not come to a solution that is mutually beneficial."
"SF Pride remains committed to practicing radical inclusion, practicing harm reduction in our space, and supporting those who are marginalized within our community," the group said. "We acknowledge and appreciate the steps that have been taken to heal decades of distrust between law enforcement agencies and the LGBTQ+ communities."
The group added, "We look forward to working with Pride organizations and law enforcement agencies from around the world in finding a solution that is satisfactory to all."
San Francisco's annual Pride parade will take place on Sunday, June 26.